A 20-storey office block will be built across from Waterloo Station despite fears veterans staying in a nearby building will be left living in darkness.
Lambeth councillors approved the construction of the tower near to the Union Jack Club [UJC], an organisation that provides respite to members of the armed forces and emergency services, at a planning meeting on Tuesday, October 17.
A number of properties on Waterloo Road and Cornwall Road will be bulldozed to make way for the development, which is expected to bring 1,900 jobs to the area and includes affordable workspace.
But the UJC – which is located just metres from the planned new building – says the office block will leave its members’ rooms without enough light if built.
Jan Donovan, speaking on behalf of the UJC at the planning meeting, said: “[The] benefits are at a cost and that cost is borne solely by the men and women of our armed services and emergency services.
“The proposed back of house façade of the speculative office development… will impose upon the Southern aspect of the UJC [rendering] rooms and facilities that were once beneficial to the welfare of its members now gloomy and depressing.”
Vern Stokes OBE, a garrison sergeant major in the army and Lambeth resident, added: “The armed forces community and the club do not deserve to exist in the shadows. Its members merit a home from home.
“Allowing the Union Jack Club to be in the shadows of a corporate development… It’s a step backwards and not what our brave veterans, serving soldiers and their families deserve.”
The council’s independent daylight and sunlight advisor said that a minority of rooms in the UJC would be left with daylight levels that fell below the council’s own guidelines for flats, if the development went ahead.
But he added that there were already a small number of rooms in the UJC building with similar levels of daylight and that the rooms in the UJC were mainly for short hotel-style breaks.
Most visitors to the UJC stay for up to 28 nights but Jan Donovan said that a minority of guests stay for longer. In 2022, 118 people stayed for nights or more.
The longest stay was 150 nights, she added.
A representative speaking on behalf of the applicant, Grandseal and Connect Properties UK, said it had sought to address the UJC’s concerns about light by moving the tallest part of the planned tower further away from the UJC.
The speaker added: “It is worth noting that the UJC veterans are spread across two tower buildings and eight façades with only one of these façades facing towards the proposal. The majority of the UJC veterans are therefore relatively unaffected by the proposal.”
A planning committee made up of five Labour councillors and one Green councillor approved the plans by a vote of 5:1.
Councillor Scott Ainslie, Green member for Streatham St Leonard’s, voted against, saying he was concerned about the impact of the tower on the area’s heritage.
Explaining his decision to vote in favour of the plans, Cllr Malcolm Clark, Labour member for Streatham Wells, said: “I do recognise that there will be some impact on the Union Jack Club on the outlook and the daylight, sunlight on some windows. But equally having been there I recognise that many of those rooms have an outlook to the east as well.
“They are hotel rooms by and large. They are rooms that are not primary living residences for most people. There are alternate rooms and bedrooms as has been discussed.”